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Presidential office should leave candidate nomination up to ruling party

Presidential office should leave candidate nomination up to ruling party

Posted October. 03, 2015 07:21,   


The ruling Saenuri Party has decided to set up a special task force to re-discuss the candidate nomination system for next year`s parliamentary elections from scratch, putting political feud between the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the Saenuri Party over a recent consensus reached with the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy on selecting candidates through polls via mobile phones using "secured" phone numbers. Seemingly taking Saenuri chief Kim Moo-sung`s promise not to mention the secured phone numbers as a surrender, Cheong Wa Dae said it would watch how the ruling party`s internal discussion on a new system progresses.

Members of the Presidential Secretariat, often referred to simply as "Cheong Wa Dae" by local media, stress that the latest feud was not a competition between the president and the ruling party chief to have greater influence over the nomination process or a factional power struggle. To the public`s eyes, however, presidential aides` direct intervention in the ruling party`s nomination rules seems to be the president`s expressionof her will to exercise influence in nominations. Moreover, senior Cheong Wa Dae officials attacking the ruling party leader in sync with the president`s return from an overseas trip are a rarely seen incident even under a vertical relationship between Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party. Even the faction loyal to President Park criticizes Cheong Wa Dae for getting involved in the issue. If President Park has no intention whatsoever to exert her influence over nominations, her aides should take the responsibility for making her look like a faction leader.

It is hard to understand why Hyun Ki-hwan, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, pushed the Saenuri chief to a corner by claiming that Kim had never consulted with Cheong Wa Dae over the consensus reached with the opposition leader, even though the Saenuri chief did so. If Cheong Wa Dae is not an organization to just be informed of developments, as some of its officials claim, do they mean that the presidential office should exercise its decision-making rights on each and every negotiation with the opposition party? Hyun`s predecessor stepped down, taking the responsibility for the negotiations over the proposed reform of government employees` pensions. Can Hyun say that he is not responsible for the fuss over the secured phone number system?

Already in the political circles, a list of 16 of the president`s closest aides aspiring to be lawmakers, whom she would nominate in the Saenuri`s home turf areas, is circulating. If the Cheong Wa Dae officials are really willing to run in the parliamentary elections, they should resign from their posts immediately. The president should not spend taxpayers` money to take her election-minded aides to various occasions to promote their images and careers.

It is no exaggeration to say that when there was a feud over the proposed revision of the National Assembly Act earlier this year, the public tolerated the then Saenuri floor leader Yoo Seung-min`s forced resignation to help the president. However, the people are being fed up with Cheong Wa Dae and the ruling party being preoccupied with influence over candidate nominations at a time when they should join forces to implement major reform tasks. Presidential aides should do their job properly by ensuring that the president will not make any controversial remarks that could be interpreted as her intervention in the election process.